Clear Skies Ahead
An intimate garden wedding flourishes in Lafayette Square amid stormy weather.
When Jeff Jensen and Matt Brazelton, owners of Four Muddy Paws in Lafayette Square and Edwardsville, IL, spotted two bronze rings in a jewelry shop in Italy last year, a seed was planted. The trip was sparked by Jeff’s 50th birthday, and as the two celebrated the milestone with their friends, they knew the upcoming year would be reason for another celebration: their 20 years of life as a couple. So, they decided to get married. Jeff and Matt met at a fundraising event for the future Gay and Lesbian Center of St. Louis at Union Station’s Hyatt Regency in 1994. With no intentions of meeting suitors that evening, the two mingled with friends until Matt’s group decided to play matchmaker. Spotting Jeff across the room, Matt’s friends approached Jeff to ask if he was single. When he replied he was, Matt’s friends pulled him across the room, and the two have been connected at the hip ever since. After two years of dating, they purchased their first home together in Lafayette Square, where they have been living for the past 18 years. It’s also where their intimate garden wedding took place in June.
“It’s nice having a same-sex wedding because we’re not wedded to all those traditions,” says Jeff. Although their legal nuptials took place in Minneapolis, Jeff and Matt also wed in front of 150 of their closest family and friends in June at their St. Louis home. They held a pre-ceremony cocktail hour with music from the 442’s and Erin Bode. It featured three signature cocktails named after their family dogs: a Paloma drink named after their Chihuahua mix, Frankie; a sophisticated whiskey drink named after Salem, a lab mix; and a Pimm’s Cup named after their other lab mix, Foster (the labs were also their ring-bearers). There was no aisle, and guests sat at their dinner tables during the ceremony. Jeff and Matt were adamant about the vintage botanical theme that resonated throughout their wedding day. They purchased a collection of vintage and decorative serveware to plate the exquisite meal prepared by SqWires, which also provided terrariums filled with succulents. The menus were printed on flour-sack napkins designed by Matt that also served as a wedding favor for guests. Instead of a guestbook, the couple set a typewriter inherited from Matt’s father on a vintage table, inviting guests to leave messages and words of wisdom. Amid the nostalgia and love that filled the air, however, were dark clouds determined to dampen the couple’s special day.
When It Rains, It Pours
Just as Matt and Jeff were about to say a closing prayer and be introduced as a married couple, lightning flashes distracted their guests. The skies darkened and the wind picked up, forcing them to think on their toes. The kindness of neighbors saved the day. Four homes invited all 150 guests inside, creating a memorable night for everyone in attendance. Wedding attendees found themselves being treated to impromptu tours of beautiful homes in Lafayette Square and entangled in conversations with others they wouldn’t have otherwise met. “The rain just forced this really crazy mixture of fun,” Jeff says. When the wind slowed down, Jeff and Matt wrapped up the ceremony, inviting guests to serve themselves and eat at the tables or indoors— many choosing the latter. After a second wave of rain, wedding attendees gathered indoors for the rest of the evening, where the closeness made for an intimate occasion reminiscent of Jeff and Matt’s love. The five-piece band, Sarah Jane and the Blue Notes, which was originally hired to play outdoors, made their way into the couple’s 14-by-15-foot living room, while a video montage of their two decades together looped on the television screen. The lemon-strawberry cake, prepared by La Patisserie Chouquette, was served from their kitchen. “I walked upstairs to our second floor, and people were lounging on our floor drinking wine and just having a good time,” Matt says. Despite the rain, their home, comprised of 20 years of life and love together, was on display for all to see—and they couldn’t have asked for a better outcome.
A Year to Celebrate
Although the couple doesn’t plan to honey-moon, this year alone has been a cause for many celebrations. Not only did they kick it off with Jeff’s 50th birthday celebration in Italy last year and by getting engaged, they also celebrated 20 years of togetherness and 18 years in their Lafayette Square home (two weeks before their wedding, 4,000 people visited their house during the Lafayette Square home tours). In addition, Matt will ring in his 50th birthday this year, and in November, they will celebrate 10 years as successful business owners of Four Muddy Paws.
Photos by Cryrolfe Photography.